Hillary Crosley Coker writes for Jezebel, founded Parlor Magazine, and is the best person to know if you ever need to find "Hmm. That really wasn't all that bad. I've had worse tacos" tacos in SoHo. And since I take taco recommendations quite seriously, this is more than enough for her to qualify as a Writing Ass Chick We Love.
Every week, there seems to be a new one of your very famous cousins with very large fanbases — Michael B Jordan, Ice Cube, T.I., etc — voluntarily saying shit to jeopardize it all.
Why can't your cousins just keep their feet out of their mouths? Why is this so difficult for them to do?
Crosley Coker: Regarding Michael Bae Jordan, as my buddy Michael Arceneaux calls him, there are many different worlds people move through—two are the everyday people's world and the Hollywood folks' world. Michael Bae tried to parlay that Hollywood talk to everyday people and it didn't work out.
In the Hollywood world, it's not unusual to end up partying with the only Kardashian Jenner with an actual job. Kylie is the only one of that group who is succeeding at life, she is a working model outside of the family's reality shows. But for everyday people, you must be doing some wild shit or shopping at Macy's while the family's peddling their next product—apps, lung compressors, baby clothes, their souls, whatever—to be in the same venue with "America's First Family" (c) Cosmopolitan.
Michael tried to say that interracial dating is not a big deal (it's not, as long as you don't date other races OVER Black women. If you do, that's a whole other conversation). But he said that in defense of being seen with a Kardashian Jenner. THAT was his mistake.
Saying you love women of all shades? Fine.
Saying you're possibly open to dating a Kardashian Jenner while rumored to be saying All Lives Matter? *Black America implodes*
Blacks have already lost too many men to the Kardashians and the police, though they can have Tyga and Ray J. (Not the police, that'd be cruel.)
Then of course, there's Raven-Symone, who's been repeatedly called out by the Delegation Of Internet Black People (me included) for at least a half dozen things, including acting like her name wasn't motherfucking Raven-Symone. A person with a dash, a hyphen, a unique spelling of Simone, and an actual first name named after an actual Black-ass bird probably shouldn't admit to wanting to discriminate against people with Black-ass names.
That said, I do feel somewhat sympathetic towards celebrities and entertainers who get shit wrong. In no small part because I get paid to follow, critique, and deconstruct this race/culture/pop culture shit, and I still get shit very wrong sometimes. And not "wrong" in terms of having a wrong or unpopular opinion. Everyone has those. But wrong in the "yeah, I probably shouldn't have taken that angle" context.
You write for Jezebel, which means you write approximately 4472 different pieces a week. And I'm assuming you get shit wrong sometimes. How do you handle what happens when that happens?
Crosley Coker: Man, it happens. Mistakes and poor takes are why I double and triple check what I say and write because best believe, the innanet will never let you forget your bad move. For example, recently I wrote up the Stonewall film trailer and though I sort of thought 'Where are the people of color in this movie? Stonewall was set off by us (meaning people of color) but this movie's about some White dude?' when I first saw it, but I didn't include that in my post. And then the LGBT community reacted to the trailer online like 'Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck this whitewashed bullshit' and I apologized on social media because I knew better but was too busy thinking about distractions to notice. It's not a huge mistake but it's… a huge mistake for a person who prides herself on inclusion, diverse representation and calling out misrepresentations in pop culture. The first thing to do when you make a mistake is own it, it's hard to argue with a person who just says 'You're right, I fucked up.' Secondly, learn the lesson and don't do it again and third, always remember that whatever you write on the internet stays on the internet. You gotta be on point out here in these streets or someone will dig up something you wrote 11,000 years ago when you were a dumb 20-something to discredit you.
"Goldberg finds herself in a celebrity culture for which she wasn’t made and couldn’t have predicted, and she and her contemporaries have struggled to keep up as the chains of progress have moved down the field (see also: Jerry Seinfeld, Matt Damon and Chrissie Hynde, among others)."
While it's about current celebrity culture, I couldn't help but draw a parallel to how we all struggle at internet-ing. Chuck Klosterman once said (paraphrasing) the internet is evolving faster than our ability to assess and understand it. Or perhaps it was Carmelo Anthony who said it. Who knows? Either way, I think about that often because it seems like none of us are any good at this. Some people are just less bad at it than others. Like, remember when the Dutty Wine was popular, and clubs were filled with women attempting to do that dance, but only 3% to 5% could pull it off without giving themselves a concussion? That's how internet-ing feels sometimes. "Success" just means we haven't dizzily spun ourselves into the DJ booth yet.
Crosley Coker: Yeah, I can agree with most people ruining the Dutty Wine (aka the internet) while two people are actually doing it right. The problem is, the internet, like the Dutty Wine, is just so fun to mess around on. For a lot of people, the web is like a drug, right. Take a selfie, upload it and strangers tell you that you're attractive. Say something smart on Twitter and Ta-Nehisi retweets you and you jokingly say "Mama I made it" but you're only partially kidding. Or maybe that was just me. The internet is the best and worst of us and for better and worse it's all on the web forever, Lord help us.
The thing that bugs me is the high school vibe of it all. One person will purposely Say Something Incendiary, troll the web and social media will fall over itself to say something, positive or negative. It's frustrating because creativity is supposed to be different and odd. Perhaps you don't get the performance or work initially but maybe you will eventually… or not. But in chasing clicks and racing to deliver the first hot take on the biggest trending topics on Google, we seem to move in a circle of sharing the same opinions from just slightly different perspectives.
Of course, while we're having this talk about bad internet-ing, a trapping, "ho-trip"-taking, and ridiculously resourceful *former* stripper named Zola happened. And happened to use the internet to tell the best and most compelling story of shitty things happening to people since the Book of Job. She seems to be great at internet-ing. Why can't we all internet like Zola?
Crosley Coker: Zola's story is the best piece of Street Lit I've read in years! Years! Those 150-something tweets were amazing. Man, we can't all internet like Zola, which makes this a great moment in not only Black history but internet history. Reading her story for the first time, I was gobsmacked. It was clear that, if the tale's true, sex work as a personal choice is still a-ok with me but everyone in those tweets is going to jail, several folks need therapy and sex trafficking must be stopped. And I gleaned all of that from 150 tweets! Again, the internet is the best and worst of humanity these days but damn if it can't be wildly entertaining when it wants to be.